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NY pols vow to preserve Zadroga funds from cuts

Congressman Peter King, listening to a reporter during

Congressman Peter King, listening to a reporter during the Joint New York-Puerto RIco Delegation Breakfast event at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Three New York representatives vowed Thursday to try to save funds for 9/11 responders from being cut if Congress doesn't enact deficit-cutting measures by Jan. 2.

About $329 million in funds allocated in the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act could be cut automatically if Congress doesn't come up with other budget-cutting measures. That money is part of the $1.2 trillion to be chopped if Congress doesn't act.

"We're going to have to fight as hard as we can to keep this money," said Republican Peter King of Seaford, who joined Manhattan Democrats Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler in a statement issued Thursday.

The $1.2 trillion cuts in defense and domestic programs, known as sequestration, would begin by the end of this year unless Congress amends the Budget Control Act of 2012.

As part of a deal that raised the country's borrowing limit, the act, passed earlier this year, called for a supercommittee that was supposed to find up to $1.5 trillion in savings, or sequestration would be triggered. The committee failed to find such savings.

King, who voted for the bill, called it the "least worse alternative" they had at the time.

Nadler's spokesman, Ilan Kayetsky, said the congressman, who voted against the bill, would introduce legislation Friday to cancel sequestration.

Maloney, who also opposed sequestration, called the potential Zadroga Act cuts "yet another reason why lawmakers must join in a bipartisan fashion." But sources conceded there was little anyone could do now for the 9/11 funds, short of making sure the automatic cuts don't occur. "A specific legislative fix is unlikely," a congressional source said.

The possibility of cuts is a bitter pill for first responders who lobbied for years to get the $4.3 billion law passed and signed into law in January 2011.

"We're prepared to fight," said John Feal, founder of FealGood Foundation, a responder advocacy group. "We're not going to accept these cuts."

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